[Reviewed by Damiano Lanzi]
This Ukrainian post-metal band delivers an ambitious and massive album structured as a series of ten “pictures”, appearing as illusions, dreams or mirages to a lonely traveller roaming in a desert. Ka Mmen’s music is highly imaginative and visual, with a crossover-metal sound made of huge guitars and bouncing basslines, punctuated by dreamy keyboards and progressive passages. These elements, together with the singer Dmitry Lubimov’s versatile voice (that only at some points reveals a Slavic pronunciation in his English singing), place them between metal, goth and prog, but with an original and somewhat pop attitude that makes them stand outside the codified metal sub-genres, recalling some out-of-the-schemes acts as Faith No More, Type O Negative or the extravaganza of Serj Tankian’s solo works.
Examining in detail the tracks, we begin with “Peacock Butterfly”, the perfect opener with a killer guitar riff and 4-beat guitar and bass. In the verses Lubimov looks for entrancing vocal lines that turn around minor and minor-harmonic scales for an exotic and epic mood, a tendency that’s present all through the album. Towards the end the verse is repeated in a quieter version with reverse guitars, giving already a glance on the various nuances of Ka Mmen’s sound. “Worship” has a more melancholic verse, where the good production becomes evident in the keyboards sounds. Later in the song there’s an interesting alternation of crossover variations and interludes with clean guitar arpeggios. The third track “Cold of the World Above” is a rereading of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Snow Queen”, or maybe of the soviet cartoon adaptation made in 1957 by Lev Atamanov, surely in a more adult interpretation, with lyrics about brothels and erotic sorcery.
“I am a Grand Piano” is an instrumental piano interlude, while “In Chains” is one of the heavier songs in the album. After the other post-rock inspired, oceanic instrumental “Orca’s Dream”, it’s the turn of “Sightless Sky”, in my opinion the most accomplished track, even if it might seem too commercial to some listeners (in fact there is also an evocative music video for the song). Here the hard side of Ka Mmen finds the perfect balance with the pop electronics and the exciting rhythmic pattern, allowing Lubimov to deliver a great vocal interpretation. “Steppe Wolf” is again an heavy track, while “Rise from Ashes” has some different moments, a post-rock intro, a part with octave mandolin-like guitar, an heavy verse and a curious waltz-march part with a well produced “distance” effect.
In the end, a guitar-ambient part with feedbacks and effects naturally flows into the final track “Phoenix”, underlining the thematic link between the two songs (the phoenix that rises from the ashes). The song fades out on the notes “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd (the album is dedicated to Syd Barrett’s memory, as is written in the liner notes). The artwork is also worth mentioning; a necessary complement to the music itself and its epic feel: the digipak includes a series of ten cards with a parchment-like look, one for each track, with graphics inspired by the themes of the song on one side and the lyrics on the other.